Ministry of Margaret Nelson
Uganda, Africa

October 17, 2008

Back to Africa

Another African adventure. How often have I said those very words regarding life in East Africa? Many, many times. Ive even thought of someday writing a book by that title!

I arrived back in Uganda after dark on Friday, October 3rd. Because of both the pending exhaustion of the long trip back from the USA, and of the hazards of driving at night, I had made reservations to spend the night at a certain hotel in Entebbe, the town next to the international airport. The trip had been good, as such lengthy trips go. I rarely am able to sleep on planes unless I have good prayer support. I had requested many to pray, both that I could sleep on the plane and also for protection from the spiritual assaults that always await my return to the mission field.

As I readied myself to leave the States, I concentrated on getting my baggage to fit into 2 50-pound duffel bags. Since we used to get 70-pounds per bag for international flights, this was a challenge, especially after being in the US for 6 months! After a very long day of sorting things out, I had my 2 bags as close as I could get to 50-pounds each, using a bathroom scale. I was so worried about having them be overweight that I forgot Id gone to the airport an extra hour early to be able to reserve window seats for my long flights.

But God had things under control, even if I didnt. My bags weighed in at 50.5 pounds and 49.5 pounds exactly. And the seats I was assigned were two A seats (definitely windows) and an E. As I suspected, the E seat was a dreaded middle seat, but it was only a 4-hour flight to Detroit. But a couple approached me, saying they were together, would I mind moving over to the window seat?

As my plane neared the halfway point of my trip, landing at Amsterdam, I marveled at the beauty of the sunrise through colorful columnar clouds. I longed for my camera to catch the changing of the lights and shadows as we descended through variegated white fluff. Suddenly the green, soggy farmlands of Netherlands opened below us, and in spite of the clouds, there was also a radiant morning light enhancing the shades of green and reflecting off the sitting water. I was amazed to see modern metal windmills offshore in the ocean. I could see the ruddy old buildings of ancient Amsterdam, which spread out into the modern city. Soon we had landed and I had to hurry to the other side of the Schiphol Airport where my flight to Entebbe would take off in less than 2 hours. As I stood in the long line, awaiting my security check to board, I could see the big 747 that would be taking me to Uganda. And a rainbows end was resting on it. I felt the peace and joy of the Lord in all the beauty Id witnessed that morning, and the touch of the rainbow telling me Hed heard my prayer I always offer, that His hands will be cradling the plane Im flying in.

As I arrived at my hotel in Entebbe about 8 hours later, I was asked if I was part of such-and-such group of 17 people? I said no, I was alone. Had I registered for a room? Yes, and I had confirmed as well. Pages were turned, books were ruffled, looks were blank. There was no registration for me. Worse yet, the hotel was booked solid. No room in the inn for this weary traveler.

The shuttle driver whod brought me from the airport was kind enough to drive me around Entebbe, looking for comparably priced hotels for me. One was full, one was dark, and on the third try, one had one room left open. It was a haven, so quiet, so dark, I couldve envisioned myself in my quiet village rather than in this busy town. I finally got to bed sometime after 10:00 (add 10 hours to the Pacific Daylight Savings Time Id just left the day before) and slept solid until 4:30 ~ not bad for the first night of jet lag!

More surprises were awaiting Saturday morning. I did not have my Ugandan phone, in fact it had been stolen from the friend whod borrowed it in my absence, so Id had no ability to call my friends who were to have picked me up, to tell them I was not at the arranged hotel. But I had a Blackberry Id purchased in the USA, so I sent a text message to a friend in Kampala, asking her to contact the 2 men meeting me. However, the one driving my car had also had his phone stolen, so I had no way to reach him, even by texting. So I had my hotel call the first hotel, leaving a message for the men if they showed up there, where to find me.

Soon one friend arrived. He had a phone, so the other friend called him and said he was unable to bring my car and pick me up. He was still in Luweero, 80 miles north. We were to call Paul, a taxi driver in Kampala to come the 40 miles to Entebbe, and drive me to Luweero. Again, because I didnt have my Uganda phone, I didnt have Pauls phone number. So I emailed another friend in northeastern Uganda who uses Paul when shes in Kampala, and by the grace of God, she checked her email and called immediately, giving me Pauls number.

Interestingly, the day before I left the USA, a church friend had stopped by to give me $100. Shed been saving for some time to have some money to give to the Lord, and then felt Him directing her to give it to me. It was mostly smaller bills, so I exchanged it for a newer $100 bill in order to get the best exchange rate when buying Uganda shillings. I had bought my shillings at the airport in Entebbe, not knowing that the hotel change I was to experience would put me in a place that would not accept my Visa debit card. I had wired money for the trip to my friend with my car, but he didnt come for me, and now I had to pay for a taxi. I asked the taxi driver to stop at my bank in Kampala, which is open til 1:00 on Saturdays, but realized it was already after 1:00. So the rest of that $100 went to pay for the taxi trip home!

God provides so amazingly, even when we dont know theres going to be such a need!

Because of the prayer backing I had, I did not suffer jet lag, only some tiredness. Id requested prayer for protection from spiritual assault as well as for sleep on the flights. I got home to learn that just 3 days before I got home, a couple was cleaning my house in anticipation of my arrival (a lot of dust, spiderwebs and gecko potty can accumulate over the months!). The lady went to pull some things out of my dress closet in order to sweep the floor when she was startled by a huge snake! It was a 5-foot long black cobra with its head up and flared, ready to attack!

The way Ugandans deal with cobras is with kerosene. If they find a snake hole, they will pour kerosene down the hole and it runs the snake out. Then they can kill it with a stick. There was kerosene in my lamps but the problem was how to get it on that angry cobra holed up in my closet! There was no spray bottle handy, but the man quickly solved the problem by putting the kerosene in his mouth and spraying it at the snake. The cobra quickly took off out of the house, where they chased and killed it with a stick.

I thank God for protecting both this couple and me from this snake! It was not exactly the welcoming committee Id anticipated! As it says in Luke 10:19, God gives us authority over snakes and scorpions and over the power of our enemy, protecting us from harm. Resting in the faith that comes from the Word of God, and the history of God having saved me from snakes before, I had no fear to sleep in my dark village home that night (or since), and I slept solid that night and every night since!

s I sit here writing this letter, the afternoon tropical downpour has started, drowning out my gospel music, and the village drums, and I am at peace. An upcoming newsletter will talk about our various ministries and what is transpiring in them since Ive been gone for 6 months. Stay tuned!

Margaret Nelson